BLACKDOG WINS! Root, Gaples Take Sebring GT4 America Victory

BLACKDOG WINS! Root, Gaples Take Sebring GT4 America Victory

Blackdog Racing’s Max Root and Tony Gaples scored a landmark victory Sunday at Sebring International Raceway in just the team’s second event as part of Pirelli GT4 America.

Root started from pole and drove a storming opening stint, and Gaples followed with an epic drive to win by 11.2 seconds in the No. 9 Blackdog Nissan Z NISMO GT4. Not only was it the team’s first victory of the season, it also marked the first for the Nissan GT4 racecar in global SRO Motorsports competition.

Coupled with a third-place finish in Saturday’s opening GT4 America race, Blackdog Racing leapt from seventh in the Pro-Am Teams championship to third and only 16 points out of first place.

After a quiet debut in the series at Sonoma in the Nissan, Blackdog Racing quickly showed its level of progress after the season-opener. Root, filling in for Michael Cooper, was the quickest driver in Pro-Am during both official practice sessions, and he was the fastest qualifier of all GT4 America drivers in Saturday’s second of two qualifying sessions. Gaples, not to be outdone, qualified second in the first time-trial session.

That pace carried over to the pair of one-hour races, which culminated in Sunday’s victory. Root drove the first 30 minutes and set the fastest race lap before making the mandatory driver change to Gaples, who emerged from pitlane under the race’s only full-course caution.

He restarted with 21 minutes to go and a train of Silver-class cars behind him… and critically between the Blackdog Nissan and the second-place car in Pro-Am. Gaples, a winner at Sebring last year in GT4, led overall for two laps before settling in fifth overall but still comfortably ahead in class.

Blackdog Racing and the rest of the Pirelli GT4 America competitors next head to Circuit of The Americas and a three-hour endurance race in two weeks.

MAX ROOT, NO. 9 BLACKDOG RACING NISSAN Z NISMO GT4: "Today was mega for all of us. To be the first team to win a race with the Nissan Z NISMO GT4, and do it with Tony and the Blackdog team, is very special. Sebring is such a touch a track and really bumpy. Tony did a phenomenal job under some tough conditions and pressure to help get us this win. I’m super proud of this whole team.”

TONY GAPLES, NO. 9 BLACKDOG RACING NISSAN Z NISMO GT4: “No matter how long you’ve been racing, it feels good to do anything for the first time. Today is really special for all of us. We’re proud to do this for Nissan and for everyone at Blackdog Racing. Max was fantastic all weekend, and it was a pleasure getting to drive with him here.”

RAY SORENSON, TEAM MANAGER, BLACKDOG RACING: “I think we expected to win a race or two this year, but I don’t think anyone thought it would come this soon. Congratulations to Max, Tony, this team and everyone at Nissan for a great weekend and result. Being the first drivers and team to win a race with the Nissan Z NISMO GT4 is something that we will all remember and be able to look back on with pride.”